Cloquet student expelled for weapon offenseAt a brief meeting of the Cloquet School Board on Monday night, the board voted in closed session to expel a student for a violation of the district’s zero-tolerance policy on weapons.
By: Jeff Papas, Pine Journal
At a brief meeting of the Cloquet School Board on Monday night, the board voted in closed session to expel a student for a violation of the district’s zero-tolerance policy on weapons.
The student, identified only as “Student 112612” due to minor status and data practices concerns, was suspended for up to one year.
“The incident that led to the expulsion involved a weapon,” Superintendent Ken Scarbrough said. “We also want to note that students were never in danger at any time.”
Scarbrough added that expulsion can happen for any number of offenses but they are rare.
“We average an expulsion or less each year, and it’s usually less,” he said. “They are very rare. I don’t think we average one a year.”
Scarbrough said a repeated pattern of assaults or violation of weapons rules are the main reasons students are expelled.
“It also could be any one of a number of things,” he added. “Repeated indolence, tardiness or absence, all those things carried to the extreme where warnings have been issued.”
“Each event is going to stand on its own and it has to be severe enough to warrant that action,” Scarbrough added. “If there is an offense that warrants expulsion we make sure the student is informed of the charge, and they have a right to know what the charges are and who is making them.”
Parents are also involved in the process.
“We involve the parents from the beginning with the same information,” Scarbrough said. “If the parents and student decide they want a hearing, we hire a hearing officer and conduct a hearing before the school board in closed session. The board makes its determination from that hearing.”
“If the parents don’t want to go through that process, we will sometimes come up with an agreement to waive the expulsion hearing,” he added. “That’s a way to get to the solution.”
In this case, the student’s parents worked closely with the school district and waived any hearing.
However, the school district retains a responsibility to educate expelled students.
“Just because we expel a student doesn’t absolve us of the responsibility to educate the student,” Scarbrough said.
Options such as transfer to another school district, homebound instruction, online education or an alternative school setting such as the Cloquet Area Alternative Education Program (CAAEP) exist.
“An alternative education plan is already in place for the expelled student,” Scarbrough said.
Scarbrough said the district’s zero-tolerance policies have been adequate to forestall major incidents.
“We have zero tolerance for things like weapons, threats and assaults, but that’s a hard word to define,” he said. “The reverse of that would be that we tolerate certain risk behaviors, and we don’t.”